Brett Farrow creates ‘chiseled’ homes for Laguna Row development


Cedar siding and distinctive windows adorn the exterior of the tall townhouses designed, developed and built by Californian architect Brett Farrow.

Located in Carlsbad, a beach town north of San Diego, the Laguna Row Development sits between an ecological reserve and urban amenities such as shops and restaurants.

Exterior cedar cladding features

Brett Farrow Architect – based in nearby Cardiff-by-the-Sea – was the architect, developer and builder of the 25,565 square foot (2,375 square meter) project.

“This site presented a unique opportunity to provide privacy in front of nature while providing a very public urban lifestyle with restaurants, public transportation and the beach within walking distance,” the studio said.

The Laguna Row development is located in Carlsbad

Farrow said the design is inspired by California’s natural setting and modern coastal style, and some features evoke the famous Sea Ranch community in Northern California.

“When visiting the site, the first impression was of surprise at the open space and vital natural beauty of the lagoon,” said founder Brett Farrow. “Instantly, I felt transported to another place and another time.”

Buildings by Brett Farrow
Sloping roofs top waterfront houses

For an irregularly shaped site, Farrow designed 13 slender single-family homes that line a central motor yard. Clad in western red cedar, the three-story buildings are angled to optimize privacy, sunlight, and views.

The houses are rectangular in plan, but their shape is more sculptural. Farrow called them “chiseled geometries”, with angles and cutouts that create unexpected spaces and stark shadows.

Interior of Brett Farrow
Brett Farrow added oak flooring inside homes

The houses are topped with pitched roofs in response to local zoning rules. The rule requires roofs to pitch 5:12, which means a roof must rise five feet vertically for every 12 feet of horizontal distance.

While the buildings all share the same design vocabulary, Farrow created five different floor plans and varied the window patterns of the houses.

Brett Farrow Housing
Openable windows and sliding glass doors let in daylight and sea breezes

All homes are equipped with a redwood deck and a 12-foot-high (3.6-meter) garage with elevator, allowing storage for two stacked cars.

Interior finishes include oak flooring and vertical grain Douglas fir screens. The kitchen has quartz countertops and walnut cabinets.

Neutral interiors
All houses are equipped with a redwood terrace outside

Carefully placed operable windows and sliding glass doors let in daylight and sea breezes, resulting in little to no need for mechanical heating and cooling.

Passive cooling is one of many sustainable strategies employed by Farrow. Others include individual solar systems, all-electric appliances, and native plantings in the landscape.

The project has also helped improve stormwater conditions and natural habitat at the site, which once housed an office building, single-family residence and parking lot.

Farrow said that by serving as an architect, developer and builder, he was able to make decisions and get things done in a way “not typical in most property developments”.

“This control of process and economic priorities was essential to creating housing that reflects its time and place,” he said.

Development of Brett Farrow
Development between ecological reserve and urban amenities

Other Brett Farrow projects include converting a seedy auto shop in Carlsbad into a mixed-use complex for working, eating and drinking. The renovated building features cedar and steel siding, large garage doors and an asymmetrical upper floor addition.

Photography is by Auda & Auda Photography (exterior) and Tomografica (interior).

Project credits:

Architect and builder: Brett Farrow Architect, Inc
Owner/developer: Laguna Project, LP/Brett Farrow Architect, Inc
Structural engineer: Solid Plane Engineering, Sean Kessel
Landscaping: Aera, Leslie Ryan


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